Newcastle United plan to make Saudi Arabia return during World Cup as training ground upgrades progress

Newcastle United are planning to jet off to Saudi Arabia once again for a warm weather training camp during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

The members of Newcastle’s squad that aren't heading to the World Cup this November will instead be travelling to the bordering Saudi Arabia during the break in the Premier League season.

The 2022-23 top flight season will be halted from November 14 before returning on December 26 with the World Cup taking place from November 21 until December 18.

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In that time, Eddie Howe’s side are planning to return to Saudi Arabia for the second time this year.

St James's Park, Newcastle. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
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Back in January, Newcastle travelled to Jeddah for a week-long warm weather training camp which included a behind closed doors friendly match against Saudi Pro League side Al-Ittihad.

Goals from Allan Saint-Maximin and Ryan Fraser saw Newcastle win the match 2-1 as both sides ended the match with 10 men. Ciaran Clark was shown a straight red card before being left out of Newcastle’s 25-man squad for the second half of the campaign.

The travel plans and details of the trip are yet to be confirmed by the club, but it is understood that they will take part in at least one friendly match against European opposition whilst away.

And the destination comes as no surprise given Newcastle’s high-profile takeover led by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund a year ago this week.

The trip will also allow crucial work to continue on Newcastle’s training ground. Work has been ongoing at Darsley Park following planning permission approval for single-storey side and rear extensions to the east side of the Benton training complex, as well as a dining room extension and landscaping works back in June.

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But with players and staff still needing to use the facilities to train, recover and prepare for matches, progress has been limited.

Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe also believes in the team-bonding benefits of the trips.

Following last season’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Newcastle went on to win 11 of their final 18 Premier League matches to finish 11th in the table.

And Howe later admitted that the trip was a ‘turning point’ in his side’s season.

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“Yeah, difficult at the time to see it at the time, but looking back that was a turning point for us,” Howe said. “We went to Saudi Arabia, which was a brilliant trip for the group and we came back in a much better place, united and ready to start the fight to stay in the division.

“To get that positive result before we left [at Leeds United], to keep a clean sheet away from home and the performance was a good one, that was a massive, massive result for us that led to the good run of form since.”

This time around, United are likely to be without key players such as Kieran Trippier, Nick Pope, Bruno Guimaraes and Fabian Schar plus any others who are fortunate enough to earn a World Cup call-up.